Categorized | Opinion

Great outdoors weekend

By Josh McGowan

Scott Stanford with a pile of mallards, pintail and teal from the Mississippi River backwater on the last day of Missouri's duck season.

Scott Stanford with a pile of mallards, pintail and teal from the Mississippi River backwater on the last day of Missouri’s duck season.

Mother Nature afforded us a few beautiful days in the great outdoors over the past weekend, and a lot of folks got out and enjoyed them.

I was up to my ears in crappie jigs and poles and tackle boxes and so on, getting the shop ready for the big show at Grizzly this coming weekend, so my reports are all second hand. Fortunately some outdoorsmen don’t have to work weekends and provided me with some great reports!

Reelfoot Lake is at “full pool” and with the stumps covered, spider-rigging is now the number one tactic if you want to catch crappie. A few of my buddies were out in the deeper water on the south side of the lake pushing minnows and caught some really nice fish.

The technique was just slow, slow, and slower, pushing minnows in 10 to 12 foot of water. When the lake is up and the fish are not spawning, spider-rigging is really the only way to effectively catch crappie. The most important part of this technique is boat control. You really have to be able to maintain a very slow speed, .1 to .4 mph, to keep your baits in the strike zone and keep from getting hung up on the thousands of stumps below the surface. Winter time crappie are very lethargic, and will not chase a fast moving bait, so slow and steady is the way to go. We maintain our speed by dragging chains or wind socks and put the wind at our backs, which is a lot better than trolling into the wind on cold days. “Dragging” also eliminates trolling motor noise and saves your battery.

Kentucky Lake is one and half feet above winter pool. My buddies over at Kick’n Bass guide service said the bass fishing was really good before the incliment weather, but as it calms the fishing should get good again.

They’ve been catching bass on Alabama rigs and Steel Shad blade baits at the mouths of bays and along the main river channels. Most of the fish were suspended 15 feet deep in 20 to 25 feet of water chasing shad. The crappie were on ledges on deep brush and stumps and were being caught with jigs and minnows.

The report over at Wapappello hasn’t changed much, but it’s going to! We may have a few more weeks of catching fish suspended deep, but the first hint of a warming trend, the fish will start moving around and becoming more active.

This late winter/early spring that’s approaching should continue to show signs of size improvement from the 9 inch limit. I can’t wait to see some of the weights from the Wapappello Crappie Club’s tourney’s this spring.

Scott Stafford, Joey Priggel and company were at it again over the weekend. The rain that finally showed up put enough water in the Mississippi River to make their number one duck hunting hole not only accessible, but very attractive to passing waterfowl! It’s been a long, rough season for a lot of duck hunters in the region, but the end of Missouri’s season was great. Scott said the ducks were not only here, but they were working right in their face.

They killed 71 mallards in the last three days of the season! Saturday they were done by 7:30 and Sunday with a big group of hunters, they finished out their limit by 8:30.

He said it was the shoot of a lifetime, with flock after flock of mallards spiralling down right in front of them. He said they could have killed hundreds of teal if so inclined, but the big ducks were plentiful.

They were only hunting 40 or so decoys, with some splashing and only one flapping wing decoy. It was just a matter of getting the water.

Billy Blakely and the rest of the guys over on Reelfoot Lake shoot the same ducks that frequent the river shutes and fields in Southeast Missouri, and they’ve been hammering them as well. They still have another week of hunting and will probably kill a ton more ducks.

I finally got the video from this past deer season in Northeast Missouri uploaded and you can go to http://www.joshgowanoutdoors.com/ and go to videos to see it.

I’m pretty excited about the big crappie show this coming week, and even more excited to get out on the water and get back to catching some fish!

Josh M. Gowan, Outdoor Columnist, Crappie Angler Magazine field staff, Freelance Writer 573-579-0212

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